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Patient coding with a twist

25 February 2013   Lis Evenstad

Tim Kelsey, national director of patients and information

Patients will be taught how to code and make apps as part of a patient empowerment programme being run by the NHS Commissioning Board.

National director of patients and information Tim Kelsey has previously called on clinicians to learn how to program.

In an NHS Institute webinar, he said that involving patients was key to the health care revolution.

In the monthly webinar ‘Expert on Call’, he explained that the government was putting in place several measures to empower patients. These included promising everybody electronic access to their primary care records by March 2015, NHS 111 and introducing the friends and family test.

Kelsey said learning to code was another type of participation and the NHS CB would soon publish guidance on how they were going to approach this.

“We’re launching something called Code4Health, available for patients and clinicians, which will teach people quickly how to code and make programs and apps,” he said.

The initiative would encourage both patients and healthcare professionals to reset their thinking about the power of data and information.

He recognised that not all patients would have adequate computer literacy to take advantage of the new services being made available.

“I’m very much about inclusion. However there will be a large number of people who will find it difficult to participate. So we are launching a health advantages programme,” he said.

The programme would help those who needed it with understanding their online records and other electronic services available to them.

“What we’re looking to do is turn the NHS into a social movement,” said Kelsey.

He added that the principles of transparency and participation were key factors in making the new health service work.

“If we can liberate the data and give it to people, that’s what we want to do. If we can make the data more freely available we will transform the way in which services is provided.

"We need to learn how we can unleash the power of transparency,” he said.

“A 21st century health service is about prioritising knowledge. It’s all about sensible, mature conversations where everyone shares the same currency. The currency is open data.”

Code4Health is modelled on the US CodeforAmerica initiative, which encourages public sector workers to learn to code.

 


Related Articles:

44 News: NHS staff should code - Kelsey | 4 October 2012
News: Myhealthlocker works to engage patients | 2 November 2012
2 News: RCGP leads records access project | 18 September 2012
Last updated: 27 February 2013 13:41

© 2013 EHealth Media.


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The Elephant in the room - risk of litigation - it was not us gov!!

Jean Roberts 78 weeks ago

Some small proportion of patients will be software developers -- but with no health domain understanding so interoperability will go out of the window, as will cohesive strategic health information plans. The elephant in the room is who do you sue if your patient record is not complete because the 'amateur app' forgot to add in the test result or your patient reflection .. or what happens if subsequent interventions are well-intentioned but not grounded in all clinical evidence and you die - will your relations be happy with ' death by non-clinical cyber causes'??? I am all for patient empowerment but like the idea of clinicians coding apps rather than diagnoses I would rather those non-specialists in health informatics input to the functional design and applied themselves as system testers - does 'it' do what I want robustly, and can it be made to do seriously inappropriate things in the hands of a non-expert??

The deliverables from amateur apps would run the very real risk of not being fit for purpose if developed by those who were not fit to practice, and did not take account of the wider health landscape.

So this Kelsey proposition presents an elephantine risk which could cost us all dearly!


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Do as I do or do as i say?

Glen Griffiths 78 weeks ago

I would be genuinely interested in this discussion if Mr Kelsey would explain to all assembled the extent of his own coding experience, what he has done to enhance it and how he intends to use it in the way he suggests in the future. Providing examples would also be useful.

It is absolutely unacceptable to make grandiose plans and statements to the public about what the 'public' should do without applying that same logic to oneself.

It's easy for a comment like this to be taken personally, that's far from the intention but many of us feel frankly insulted by the arguments being put out there, who within the DH etc., is advising on this, who is agreeing with it and perhaps even more importantly funding it?

Some concrete examples of what could actually be achieved by individual patients might also help to illustrate the intention behind this.


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What others are doing

timbenson 78 weeks ago

See bit.ly/13sqn4T


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Conflating the Issues?

Ewan Davis 78 weeks ago

Tim, your link is about teaching school children and students to code. Not quite what being suggested and throwing it in here risks conflating issues.

We have a real problem, belated acknowledged, with ITC (or call it what you will) education in schools, which has focussed on basic IT literacy and how to use PowerPoint and has included very little to provide a foundation for those who want to go on and pursue a career as a computer scientist, software engineer or informatician. This was different for my generation who of necessity had to learn the basics - I could probably still build you a binary half adder from a handful of transistors and write you a program in 6502 or 6800 machine code; And while these skills are now obsolete it was getting involved at a level that was challenging and stimulating that led many of us into our current roles. Teaching kids to code is vital if we are to have a vibrant digital economy and I applaud the work of people like the Raspberry Pi Foundation, Young Rewired State, many others and indeed the Government's recognition of the need to radically change the ITC curriculum.

eHealth literacy is also vitally important if we want to get the public and patients to effectively use digital technology to engage in the maintenance of their health and well-being and with services designed to support and treat them. In particular we have to raise eHealth literacy with the 60+ age range (unless we want to wait for the digital natives to grow up before we see benefit) as it is this group who consume the majority of health and care resources and who have the lowest level of access to and the skills to use digital technology. I really don't believe that teaching these people to code is an effective route to raising eHealth literacy on the scale we need (although I'm all for encouraging coding skills in this group who have an interest for it's own sake; Indeed I'm learning Ruby myself)

I conflicted about how I feel about Tim Kelsey's statement. On one hand I'm deeply irritated by what is an obviously stupid idea that risks trivialising what needs to be done to harness the massive potential to do things differently with digital technology. While on the other I welcome the debate and can see that as we tease away at the initial absurdity of the proposal that it might make us think differently and encourage us to consider how we properly involve frontline users (patients, public and HCP) in the design process to produce software that is desirable and functional and can truly change the way that public and patients engage with their health and well-being and interact with formal services and their informal care networks to get the care they need.


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It means everybody, but it is easier to start young

timbenson 78 weeks ago

“I think everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think.”

— STEVE JOBS, THE LOST INTERVIEW


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And so when is the next patient empowerment programme due?

Bob Byek 78 weeks ago

The proper 'patient empowerment programme' is via the ballot box, this proposal does no credit to anyone (least of all any of its misguided appologists here), its more like a Papal abdication note: "its all very hard, I hope someone else will do better", pray god. (any qualified god)


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So come on Tim, put some meat on the bones

Guildfoss 78 weeks ago

OK - I understand the promise of open data to be similar to what 'english language' did and does for global business. But 'english' had the British Empire - what power does open data depend on to establish itself please? If Tim says 'its the NHS' I would believe him if this was 2002 with 6bn in the bank - , but this is 2013 and we have 0bn. Where's the meat Tim - Oh - and no more NPfIT horsemeat please!


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Eclipse plug-in anyone?

just_instantiate 78 weeks ago

Yes, just googled Code4Health to download the IDE and found ... nothing. Maybe we (patient hat on) are supposed to install MUMPS on our home VAX and badger our local hospital for an HL7 results feed.


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Sideshow Bob

JacquesOuze 78 weeks ago

I'm not sure why anyone is taking this at all seriously. Transparent Tim can sit playing with his little box of toys and ask some of his bezzy mates to come and play too, but his little schemes don't amount to a hill of beans in the big scary real world of NHS IT.

I strongly suspect Nicholson and co are encouraging him to come up with more ideas like this as a way of stopping him from making any more stupid statements about EPR coverage.


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In other news..

Groundhog Day 78 weeks ago

National director of patients and information Tim Kelsey suggests that patients should design their own NHS strategy for public healthcare thereby doing away with ministers and health professionals.

When questioned about the policy Mr Kelsey said "Everybody knows that Ministers no absolutely nothing about the subject for which they are responsible, by putting the patients in charge of health policy they will only have themselves to blame"

he continued "after all we have lots of people lying in hospital beds watching drivel on the TV when they could all come up with well thought out public health policy, thereby freeing up ministers for more important matters such as golf handicaps and completing expenses returns"


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The Debate is Good

Ewan Davis 78 weeks ago

At least this has got some useful debate going.

Getting patients to write their own health software is clearly mad for 99% of patients. HOWEVER getting the public, patients, HCP and other who have to use the stuff or put up with the sequelae when it doesn't work is not. Nor is the idea that we have to improve patients' eHealth literacy - Although I don't think teaching them to code is the way to do this.

In a recent blog bit.ly/15PJoOc I said:

"We should have zero-tolerance for systems that slow down or make tasks at the frontline more difficult (as is so often currently the case)"

This to me is a massive failing of current systems - I see so many example of IT making life difficult for the frontline in ways that are so obviously avoidable that I don't believe the developers can ever have seen their product in a real frontline, let alone that any frontline users have been involved in design.

New way of working make it easier to involve ordinary patients and frontline users in the design process and we must move towards user centred design with those who will be effected by the quality of the software involved through the who development life-cycle working alongside professional developers, designers and information designers.

Good software design is not easy and needs professional skills that it takes years to learn - This is why many software professionals are offended by the suggestion that doctors or patients can be taught to do it better in a few days. However, software professional need to acknowledge that they have done a crap job, because they don't understand or focus on what the end user needs or understand the users perspective. We need to build code that is desirable and functional from the users perspective and this means involving users (including patients and HCPs) in the design process


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Lateral thinking

just_instantiate 78 weeks ago

Ha ha! when I read the headline I thought they meant clinical coding! Imagine!


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If it is broken, fix it.

John Pyle 78 weeks ago

Perhaps it is the lack of a way of delivering software successfully in the NHS which is behind this quest to find other ways? if you have spent millions on the 'experts' and ended up with stuff about which people say 'I/my nan/my uncle/ whoever could have done better', then you owe it to the public purse to look for better ways. You don't manage risk by paying up front as if everything had already gone wrong.


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